No matter which side of the political landscape you fall on, there’s one thing that will receive likely everyone’s vote of approval on Election Day: the food scene in America. The United States is a mecca for culinary tastes and traditions, and whether you’re in the Deep South, the heart of the Midwest or the southernmost point of the United States, you’re sure to find cities with classic regional foods all their own. Before you cast your vote on Tuesday, taste some of the best bites this country has to offer with our cross-country tour of cities’ and regions’ favorite foods and flavors.
Start your eating adventure out west and dig into a plate of California-cool tacos, like these Baja Fish Tacos (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine. They come together in just 20 quick minutes, thanks to quick-cooking halibut. The secret to this top-rated recipe is the tangy-sweet slaw that’s added right before serving. It’s made with red cabbage, creamy mayonnaise, zesty lime juice and a bit of honey, and serves as a refreshing complement to the deep-fried fish.
Moving into the Midwest, the food becomes heartier and a tad starchier. In Chicago, it’s pizza that reigns supreme, with the Windy City being famous for its deep-dish pies, many boasting more crust than toppings. Robert Irvine stays true to the classic preparation in his Deep-Dish Pizza, making a from-scratch crust and finishing it with a hearty sausage-laced tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella cheese.
With Halloween just hours away, you’re likely feeling prepared for this spooky-sweet holiday by now. Candy and costumes? Check, check. Trick-or-treat plans? Made them. Extra candy? Of course. But then your child comes home from school and announces that he’s volunteered to bring in treats for his classroom Halloween party tomorrow. What do you do? Instead of relying on your secret stash of candy bars to save the day, try preparing easy, kid-friendly sweet treats that will wow your child and surely be the talk of the elementary school.
To start, follow Sandra Lee’s lead and embrace the magic that is Semi-Homemade Cooking. Her Monster Cupcakes come together in just 20 quick minutes, thanks to pre-made unfrosted cupcakes. The secret to working with store-bought goodies is putting your own signature spin on them. These cupcakes, for example, become extra special and look downright homemade once you — or your kids — decorate them. Sandra opts for green-tinted frosting and colorful candies to create simple, silly monsters.
I consider myself to be a moderately adventurous eater and determined cook. I enjoy expanding my food horizons and working with new ingredients. Saffron, anchovies — bring it on. But I have to admit, every once in a while all I want is a cookie. Not a cookie with sea salt or cocoa nibs, but a simple cookie, filled with goodies that a 10-year-old would go crazy over. Enter Monster Cookies.
There are some spooky recipes out there for Halloween, but Monster Cookies are anything but scary (despite what their name implies). The whole process is beautifully simple: just stir, mix and set the timer. Don’t be afraid of a kitchen mess because you’ll only need one bowl. The cookies are filled with peanut butter, chocolate chips, M&M’s and oats — a baking newbie can’t go wrong when it comes to flavor.
With the pint-sized costumes and hours of trick-or-treating that all but define Halloween, it can seem as though this spooky-sweet holiday is just for kids. But youngsters aren’t the only ones who can enjoy Halloween and especially the buckets of candy that come with it. Sure, store-bought miniature candy bars may be the treat of choice handed out to Batman, clowns and princess look-alikes on Wednesday night, but you don’t have to settle for individually wrapped peanut butter cups when feeding adults. For grown-up Halloween goodies, try making your own chocolate truffles with help from dessert extraordinaire Chef Duff Goldman, owner of Charm City Cakes bakeries in Maryland and California and the star of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes and Sugar High.
In partnership with Godiva, Duff recently launched Cake Truffles, a line of candy truffles inspired by classic desserts, and we caught up with him to get the secret to candy making for beginners and to find out his favorite truffle from the decadent collection.
For Halloween I often advise people to find one of the many wines available with scary names, such as Sin Zin, Dead Arm or Devil’s Lair. Given the festive nature of fright night, however, it can also be rewarding to whip up a big-batch wine that is sure to give your guests the creeps — in a good way.
Red Punch: The color of villainy, of course, is blood red, so the easiest way to add fright to your night is to mix up a simple Red Wine Punch from Food Network Magazine.
Sangria: With a little more work, you can make a traditional red sangria, whose name appropriately derives from sangre or blood in Spanish. I show you how in this video.
Go Green: Equally impressive would be to surprise your guests with a concoction the color of ghastly green. Obtain some green food coloring and add it to Paula Deen’s Mimosa Punch or Giada’s Apple and Mint Punch.
Each year around Halloween I find myself feeling nostalgic for elementary school — for class parties, costume parades on the playground and a plastic pumpkin bursting with candy. I also find myself craving my mom’s honeyed popcorn. It was her signature treat to give to friends and neighbors for the holiday.
After dinner when all the dishes were cleaned and put away, she’d fire up our yellow-and-white air popper and keep it running until she had filled a clean brown paper grocery bag with the popped corn. Once that task was finished, she’d melt butter and honey together into a thick syrup and pour it over the popped corn, using her longest-handled wooden spoon to help stir it all up.
The sweetened corn would then get spread across rimmed cookie sheets and would go into the oven for 10 or 15 minutes, to help set and crisp the kernels. The next day when it was cool, she’d package it up in plastic bags, secured with orange and black twist ties. My sister and I always got small bags in our lunch the day after she made it.
Here in Food Network Kitchens, we love simple, classic recipes. We are also paid to think about food all day. So we’ve taken classic foods and drinks and reimagined them into three, four or five different ways. No standard recipes here, just the occasional technique and pictures. Think of it as a picture recipe.
Chances are you’ve picked up your pumpkin to create the ultimate jack-o’-lantern or perfect pie. If that’s the case, then save the seeds. They make a great snack, sweet or savory. Simply remove the seeds from the pumpkin, remove the remaining stringy flesh and lay them out on a parchment paper and let air dry for about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, pour enough oil to lightly coat the seeds and sprinkle with salt. Spread prepared seeds out on a sheet tray or baking sheet and place in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful when removing from the oven as some seeds could pop off the sheet tray. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature. Here are four more ways to make pumpkin seeds.
Test Your Knowledge: FN Stars' Favorite Halloween Candy
Candy rules on Halloween and we all have our favorite Halloween treats. But do you know your favorite Food Network stars' picks? When this sweet holiday rolls around, they can be found eating everything from classic chocolate bars to crazy carbonated candy out of the Halloween stash.
Take this quiz and test your knowledge to see if you’re the ultimate Food Network fan.
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Which Food Network Star winner craves the irresistible combination of peanut and chocolate?
“I’m obsessed with licorice — but real licorice. It bridges the gap between adult and child. I hate candy. Most of it is so unimaginative.” Which Iron Chef said this?
Who craves classic candy corn during Halloween?
This Chopped judge loves the crunch of a Butterfinger:
“All I care about is full-size candy — none of that bite-size nonsense!” Who said this?
This Ohio native’s favorite candy is chocolate-covered raisins:
Giada De Laurentiis
“My favorite Halloween candy is a good old-fashioned chocolate bar. Plus, if I have any leftovers, I can repurpose the plain chocolate bars for recipes — just chop.” Who said this?
This Food Network personality considers homemade candy corn good eats:
Though not commonly found in the Halloween candy stash, the carbonated candy Pop Rocks is still this Iron Chef’s favorite:
Who can be found munching on mini peanut butter cups?
Which Food Network Star winner dubbed the Twix bar his or her favorite Halloween treat?
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Halloween recipe inspiration: Food Network Kitchens turn ordinary foods into freaky Halloween snacks with exclusive and easy-to-do recipe ideas.
I recently came across Food Network Magazine‘s article about Mix-and-Match Chocolate Bark and was inspired to whip up something spooky for Halloween. The ingredients were simple, the directions were easy and the result was mouthwatering brilliance.
I decided to adapt the chocolate bark for the fall season and Halloween. I chose a dark-chocolate cookie with orange cream filling. You could use candy corn, orange marshmallows, orange-colored candy melts or any other Halloween-inspired treat.
1 (12-oz.) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
15 Halloween-themed cookies (like Oreos), chopping each cookie into four pieces
Join us on Wednesday for a Facebook chat with Food Network Kitchens about Halloween recipes and entertaining. Bring your spooky-food questions and let us help you take the fear factor out of hosting a memorable Halloween bash.